Sidney Bruhl’s reputation as a playwright is on the line when another of his plays is panned by the critics. Admitting that he would do anything for a hit, Bruhl (Michael Caine) is forced to rely on his sick wife for financial support. Then one of his former students (Christopher Reeve) sends him a script.
The original play by Ira Levin about a playwright plotting murder after the panning of his recent work was a particularly clever piece of stagecraft.
But like Sleuth (1972), it was heavily dependent on the theatre itself to make its tricks work.
No matter how well director Sidney Lumet manages to disguise the theatricality, and despite hard work by leads Caine and Reeve, the bare bones of Jay Presson Allen’s script remain insubstantial, and the basic plot devices ultimately sink the project cinematically.
However, Dyan Cannon is absolutely splendid, and Irene Worth puts in a rare movie appearance.
It may work for some, but it’s really very silly and quite unpleasant in tone and character, with some desperately gratuitous, vulgar moments.
Myra Elizabeth Maxwell Bruhl
Helga Ten Dorp
Burt the bartender